CUSTER COUNTY–Friday, May 6th is National Childcare Provider Day. Local care provider Heather Schmidt and 4 County Kids coordinator Melissa Crawford submitted the following article regarding the importance of childcare (or child care) providers in our community.
Now more than ever we need to take time and recognize the people who dedicate their lives to providing quality care to families so that they can work. It is important to recognize and acknowledge that a community cannot grow and thrive without our Childcare Provider workforce.
Childcare is more than feeding babies, changing diapers, and playing with toys. Knowledge in a Child’s development is a very important part of a person’s life, since the brain is the body’s command center and 90% of a child’s brain is developed by 5 years old, so the first 5 years of life is the most crucial to an individual’s success.
Not only are Childcare Providers teachers but they also are experts in other roles as well such as:
Risk Management Advisors
Customer Service Reps.
As Small Business owners they do it all. Many programs are open 12 hours a day or more, 5 or more days a week, to serve the needs of families in their communities. Some have staff and some run their program on their own. Behind the scenes providers work even more hours completing training for licensing, paperwork, cleaning and prepping for the next day.
According to the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, center-based and home-based childcare providers make a median wage of $11.00/hour, generally have no health insurance benefits, or any employer-sponsored retirement, and operate on a very thin profit margin.
The number of childcare providers in our community has decreased, and the number of children who need care is growing. The bottom line is that childcare providers don’t do it for the money. They have a passion for early childhood education, love for the children they provide care for, and provide an essential service to the families of their communities.
There are many things our communities can do to help support our small town heroes:
- Donate outgrown toys and books to providers throughout the community.
- Donate Kleenex, paper towels, baby wipers, other household items, and craft items
- Ask a provider to share their Amazon wish list and buy something for their program or find out if the program is in need of something to improve their quality of care and donate funds to go toward their project.
- If you have a hobby, animals, or knowledge about something that you think children would love, contact a provider and ask if you could visit and share it with them. Children love to have people come into their programs with something new.
- Consider volunteering during crucial times of the day such as mealtimes, even rocking or feeding a baby could be a great help.
- Consider becoming an employee for a program, so they can go to the doctor or make other appointments, that way they don’t have to close for the day. Some home providers need staff, so they are able to care for more children. Center based programs may need part-time staff to meet adult/child ratios.
- Become back-up childcare for a family, for the times their regular provider has to close.
- Consider opening a licensed exempt program to care for three children.
- Consider opening a licensed home program or center. DHHS offers start up and expansion grants. There are agencies such as Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative who offer training, mentorship, and resources for providers to meet licensing requirements as well as items for classrooms. There may be local funds through grants to help programs with start-up.
Most importantly, recognize that they are early childhood professionals, not “babysitters.” Tell them, “Thank You, the community is lucky to have you.”
For more information about NECC and it’s programs contact Heather Schmidt, NECC Family Childcare Advisory Board, [email protected].
For more information about Nebraska DHHS childcare grants visit: https://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Child-Care-Grants.aspx